11 points clear, 14 wins in a row, a new Premier League record, all at Old Trafford. This could arguably be one of the greatest days for a Manchestr City fan. The stage was set at Old Trafford for City to create history and the Blues didnt dissappoint. The 175th Manchester Derby had everything a game should, it was intense, it was feisty, it was entertaining. This is what I learnt from this season’s top of the table clash:
City needs a new centre-back this January
We know that Kompany was one of the best centre-backs in the world in his prime, and the skipper still remains adored in and around the Etihad, but there’s no denying that Kompany is not the same robust centre-half anymore. This game could have been Kompany’s final chance, and clearly he was not up to the task. He played a couple of misplaced passes in the opening moments of the game and looked out of place for the entirety of the first half. The transition from defence to attack was far from ideal and the absence of John Stones was immediately felt. With Stones out injured, and the games coming thick and fast in the coming months, City need a new, composed centre-back who could play passes through the lines and at the same time be solid at the back.
Pep is not afraid to mix things up
When the team sheet came out and we saw Sané, Jesus and Sterling starting, it was evident that Jesus would be leading the line with Sané on the left and Sterling on the right, but Pep had other ideas, as he usually does. He deployed Raheem as a false 9 with Jesus and Sané providing the width. This gave City a fluid front three and Sterling gave an outstanding performance as a centre forward. After taking the leading in the second half and City looking to grind for the win, he asked David Silva to take Sterling’s postion as a false 9, which he did to absolute perfection. Everyone knew Pep likes his teams to be more fluid than rigid before he came the Premier League, and this game was a perfect example of his philosophy, lining up without an out an out striker and still outscoring the opponents.
Ederson is right there amongst the world’s best
Much has been made of his passing ability, composure on the ball and the distribution from the back. But with City playing the way they are, bossing opponents with huge possession and with minimal defending to do, Ederson was never really put to the test. This game was arguably Ederson’s biggest test and saying that he outshone De Gea would not be an understatement. That double save off Lukaku showed everything a keeper must have, quick reactions, great agility and being brave diving in where the boots were flying. His save was as important as the Otamandi goal and it eventually won City the derby. Having him as the last line of defence, give City fans the confidence they were looking for when the club signed Bravo. Just 24 years of age and already making waves through world football, this guy has a very bright future.
Manchester is Blue
United were unbeaten in 40 games at home, and City losing after 20 games in the midweek, there was certainly a sense of fear coming at Old Trafford to say the least. But City dominated United in every sense of the game. Fluid in attack and solid at the back. City pressed high, played the one-twos and most importantly were in command of the second balls. The game opened an 11 point gap over United, and even the most optimistic of the Old Trafford’s faithfuls would agree that the Premier League title looks to be heading over to the blue side of Manchester.
manchester derby, united vs. city